Scientists from the Census of Marine life project estimate that for every known marine species, there are three unknown. According to Colombian biologist Camilo Mora, with the high rate of extinction, species are disappearing without us even getting a glimpse of them.

This lack of knowledge and understanding of the sea led Diego Ávila, dive master and graduate in Marine Biology from the University Jorge Tadeo to ask, “How can we protect what we don’t know exists?”

This simple, yet thought-provoking question, allowed Avila to reflect on the important relationship that exists between conservation and knowledge, and triggered him to find a possible solution.

Applying the technical and graphic design skills of his brother, Felipe Ávila, they co-created Seak, a mobile application that acts as a marine biodiversity collector.

A play on the words “sea” and “seek,” the app gathers marine life data in the form of photos and GPS positioning with the purpose of “bringing the sea to your pocket” as Seak’s slogan states.

Underwater photos are then uploaded and geographically mapped by divers with the species’ information (common and scientific names) and verified by a team of marine biologists. Fun facts allow users to discover life under the sea from anywhere in the world.

“The app allows people to be part of a social network of sea lovers and marine conservationists,” states Diego. “This is an important way of empowering the public in establishing a sense of belonging and protection towards the sea.”

Seak began in 2014 when the idea was selected as part of the technology, information and communications (TIC) entrepreneurship programme. The app went on to represent Colombia in Barcelon’s 4 Years From Now Congress.

“We were surprised we were the only app that focused on encouraging people to discover our underwater environment,” Felipe says.

“Share to care” is Seak’s mission, and data uploaded will help expand the Colombian SIB biodiversity inventory.

The Ávila brothers feel Seak’s moment has arrived, having mapped 700 species ranging from Colombia to New Zealand. To download the free app for iOS and Android visit: seak.it